Rendering Suet Step-by-Step
Suet is the leaf fat from around the kidneys. It is more saturated than
other fat. It is very dense and hard. Its melting point is in excess of 110
degrees. This makes it hard to clean up if your hot tap water isn't very
There is no reason not to render a lot of suet at the same time. It keeps.
I use 16 quart and 11 quart stock pots.
You have two ways to prep the suet. First cut off any visible bits of meat.
This will speed up the rendering process. Then if you have a meat grinder
you should grind it up. This is the best. If you don't, then dice the suet
into pieces smaller than walnut size. This is a lot of cutting, but the
small size works better.
The boiling of suet takes a long time. Many hours. It does not melt easily.
I would start it early in the morning.
Use a stainless steel pot with a thick bottom. Start with a small amount of
added water. Stir often, especially in the beginning. It will become a
liquid with lots of solid pieces floating in it. After a while a few pieces
may stick to the bottom, if there are one hour gaps between stirring. I
have put in too much water, and let it simmer (always the lowest possible
flame) overnight, but too much water just lengthens the process.
The liquid does get a little yellow. I figured it came from the stuck
pieces. One wrote that sometimes grass fed animals produce yellowish fat. I
have only rendered grass-fed bison and grass-fed beef.
You should definitely render twice. It speeds up the process. Your goal is
no moisture at all. None. This is key for preservation. The signal that you
have reached this is the lack of small gas bubbles coming up from the
bottom. This is moisture converting to steam. They seem to never end. I
figure they are slowly coming out of the chunks of non-fat. If you did not
put the suet through a meat grinder I recommend inserting a stick blender
in the mixture to chop up the chunks. Be careful not to pull it out and
splatter hot fat all over. If you do two renderings, the first rendering
would be done before the bubbles stop, but the crud is all broken up. Then
heat again until all bubbles are gone. No need to strain a second time.
One woman uses a thermometer to ensure that she is not overheating. I don't
see the point if the flame is at the lowest and you stop after the bubbles
stop. She writes "When I'm rendering suet, and the water is nearly gone
(bubbles very small) I start checking the temperature with a cooking
thermometer. As long as there is water in the fat, it won't get far from
212°F (less at higher elevations). As soon as the water is gone, the fat
starts heating up. I remove it from the burner before it gets to 225°F.
That way I'm sure that it is done, and still haven't overheated it." As I
have a laser thermometer I used that to watch the temperature after the
bubbles stopped. I let it get up to 235-240°F before I turned it off and
poured into my pans.
For straining I first used a very fine strainer and put a piece of cheese
cloth in it. Not sure why the cheese cloth was needed, but everybody seems
to use it. Maybe to make cleaning easier. Since the strainer was much
smaller than the volume of chunks in the boiling pan, I held back the
chunks with a spoon and only poured out the liquid that came out easily.
Not particularly efficient. I have since switched to using a chinois that
has double layers of screening (like a strainer, not a china cap). And I no
longer use cheese cloth. Since the chinois has a tall aspect ratio I use a
tall stock pot underneath. I don't use the wooden pestle that fits in the
chinois, but a large spoon to press the gunk against the sides.
I store my rendered suet at room temperature. The last batch I put in large
disposable baking pans that have lids.
Cleaning is a mess. Make sure your hot water is very hot. Put as little fat
down the drain as possible.